Cultural interest in old Antsirabe. Varied scenic beauty and wildlife safaris in Ranomafana & Isalo National Parks.
The Route South from Tana to the south-west coast includes many typical Madagascar highland towns as well the remarkable Isalo National Park and Ranomafana National Park.
Heading south from Antananarivo, you drive through luxuriant vegetation to Antsirabe. Along the way you see the highland landscape with its rice-fields, Merina villages and eroded hills called “lavaka”. This is almost reminiscent of the Far East, with its lush green terraced paddy fields.
Antsirabe is a colonial spa town on Madagascar’s high plateau. With a cool climate and thermal springs, it is also one of the most attractive towns in Madagascar. Its former colonial glory can be seen in the wide boulevards, cathedral and the original thermal baths. Colourful “pousse-pousse” carriages and street vendors are everywhere you look. You can spend a happy hour watching the local craftsmen such as stone cutters or zebu horn carvers at work. The tiny model cars and bicycles are very cute and there’s even a traditional sweet shop!
Antsirabe is a convenient overnight stop between Tana and the Ranomafana National Park
Ranomafana National Park is on a series of steep hills. Numerous small streams tumble down the valley in a series of waterfalls and rapids. It can only really be explored on foot because of these streams. Here you can find the very rare Golden bamboo lemur. Some of the commonly seen lemurs include diademed sifakas. These are the ones who love to leap through the forest canopy.
Continue south, perhaps stopping overnight at Fianarantsoa, the second largest city in Madagascar. It has a lovely setting on a series of terraced hillsides, surrounded by forest. It has an atmospheric old upper town with crumbling colonial buildings, narrow winding streets and churches everywhere.
The striking Isalo National Park stands out, literally and figuratively – a real focal point. The Isalo massif lies amidst the relatively flat arid grasslands. It offers an awe-inspiring landscape where quirky eroded sandstone outcrops protrude in architectural formations. They suggest many shapes such as ‘the tortoise’, ‘the masks’ and ‘the crocodiles’. Enjoy hiking and swimming in the natural rock pools.
From here you can continue south to the beaches on the south-west, such as Ifaty, for some well-earned R & R.
We arrange trips to more than 100+ destinations throughout the African continent.
Need a little help? View our Safari Guide to help you get started